In 2008, Jennifer Curtis and Tina Prevatte Levy, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Firsthand Foods, merged…
Gracie Stinson is one incredible young farmer. She founded Hog Wild Farms with a Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan that she acquired at the ripe age of 10 years old; within three years, she had paid back the loan in full.
Gracie’s parents, Chris and Melody, are both educators: Melody, a music teacher, and Chris, a high school principal. Their goal for starting the farm was to instill the relevance of education and, in particular, mathematics, into their oldest child’s life. Gracie was interested in raising animals, and starting a farm was a surefire way to teach the principles of investing, money management, book keeping and responsibility!
The FSA loan covered the cost of initial infrastructure, including electric fencing, a bulk feeder and the first round of animals. All their equipment is automatic, including the waterers and feeders, which makes for easier management—very important to this busy family of five! Gracie and her younger brothers, Jackson and Walker, are all interested in raising animals. In fact, Walker, nicknamed “Big Country,” wants to raise cattle and name his farm “Big Country Cattle Company.”
Over the past few years, Gracie, the pioneer of this adventure, and her dad, Chris, have been fine-tuning their farm processes and goals. Initially they were raising “feeder to finish,” but after doing the math and crunching numbers, Gracie asked, “why are we buying piglets instead of raising our own?” That question sparked a new method of management, “farrow to finish,” and now the farm team will dial in gestation and breeding rates to a calendar cycle, so they’re able to have market animals ready every month or so. Currently, they’re not set up to direct market their pork products; however, they are working through several ideas and will be trialing those that make the most sense, given time and resource constraints.
For the Stinson family, animal husbandry equals high-welfare management, outdoors on pasture or range: “It’s all we’ve ever known,” Chris explains. The family currently raise 30 Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) hogs on their 8-acre property. They choose Duroc, Yorkshire, Berkshire crosses for the large litters they produce, which are reared by the mothers because of their positive nurturing skills. “These breeds are ideally suited to pasture-based management,” says Chris, “and the pork tastes great, too!”
Although they’re still figuring out the market aspect of their operation, they’re proud to have received the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification for their pasture-raised pigs, and hope the accreditation will assist in their efforts to make the farm a more viable business. “We wanted to differentiate ourselves from other pork producers in the area, to show that we have quality products and that animal welfare is a high priority on our farm,” explains Chris. “This will allow us to get into a different market versus what I see as the ‘Craigslist market,’ which may not have the backing of credible certifications like ours.”
For more information about Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pork products from Hog Wild Farms, contact Chris Stinson at 704-695-4039.